Sep 27, 2011

[Books] Star Wars: Force Heretic I: Remnant (The New Jedi Order Book 15)

Star Wars: Force Heretic I: Remnant (The New Jedi Order Book 15)I'm fairly certain that I've discussed the challenge of trilogies in the past. With this being a format very popular among Star Wars novels, the trilogy story format is an inevitable topic, I suppose. It has its fair share of good points and bad points like any other story format, although I do feel it has significant limitations.

A trilogy is never easy to balance regardless of your writing skill. After all, how does one map the proper flow of a narrative in a manner that it can be divided into three main chunks and yet still provide the classic elements of build-up, climax and resolution, along with all the rest of that sort of thing.

At this point in the New Jedi Order story arc, it was clear that the story really had to wrap up. There are a total of 19 full novels in the series and this is well into the tail end of things. And with this being the last multi-book arc in the entire book series, it's clear that the authors were given a laundry list of plot points that they needed to hit as part of this particular journey. Thus in many ways, I felt the book was determined to achieve these goals and not necessarily just tell a story of its own.

Star Wars: Force Heretic I: Remnant is the fifteenth book in the New Jedi Order series of novels. It was co-written by the team of Sean Williams and Shane Dix.

The book begins on an odd note - with the Jedi Barabel known as Saba Sebatyne returning to her homeworld of Barab I to find the planet ravaged by the Yuuzhan Vong. She can detect no signs of life on the planet and in rage she attacks the small Yuuzhan Vong force still in the system. But to her horror, the ship turns out to be a slave carrier and she ends up killing perhaps the last survivors among her people.

Thus we are brought back to the Galactic Alliance as they move into the next phase of their plans. With a major defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong now on their record, the Alliance now look towards solidfying their holdings and finding a true solution to the Yuuzhan Vong problem. This leads to two separate missions of more or less equal importance.

On the one hand we have Luke, Mara, Jacen. Danni and Saba off to find clues to locate the mysterious living planet known as Zonoma Sekot. The Jedi Knight Vergere had indicated to Jacen that this world was important to their efforts and now the Jedi are determined to find out what role the planet has to play in all this. Their journey will take them to Imperial Space just as the Yuuzhan Vong finally decided to attack the Remnant.

The other mission involves Leia, Han Solo, Jaina Solo, Jagged Fel , and a small Galactic Alliance Fleet as they try to reestablish communications with far-flung planets. With the galactic communications infrastructure severely impaired by the Yuuzhan Vong conquest of the former capital world of Coruscant, many planets on the fringes have been out of communications for many months. Leia also decides to bring along Tahiri, who has been experiencing disturbing dreams and strange blackouts as of late.

At first the missions seemed a little weird to me. While I understand that Zonoma Sekot appears to be the biggest lead the Alliance has in terms of finding a way to ultimately defeat the Yuuzhan Vong, it just isn't clear that this point what the planet is supposed to do. All we have to go on is the word of the enigmatic Vergere and somehow as a reader I'm not happy with how drawn-out this particular mystery has become.

Then you have the weirder mission of the efforts to re-establish communications. If anything, it felt like the authors were just given this particular story arc and thus they had to go along with it. While I appreciate effort of linking the story to older books like The Black Fleet Crisis, but at times it felt like a bit of a stretch in terms of story. It's fun to go back to the older stories and somehow keep them relevant, but I don't know if the Yevetha are quite the best example of an old story that deserved to be resurrected.

The book ultimately felt like it was wandering around to much - like the characters had to wait around for things to happen since there was so little plot to deal with. Thus we end up stretching sequences that could have been handled more efficiently, all in the effort to generate additional book sales before of the separate titles.

Space combat wasn't particularly thrilling, at least not in a consistent sense. You come to expect a certain degree of how such naval maneuvers are translated into the three dimensional playing field that is space in these books. And this one wasn't particularly fun, despite the involvement of the Imperial Remnant. If anything, I felt a little disappointed that despite his extensive experience, Grand Admiral Pellaeon didn't really have some grand maneuver that really changed the tide in things. If anything. I felt everyone was far too lucky to get out of the scrapes alive as they did.

Force Heretic I: Remnant felt too much like the setup book that it was created to be. On its own its a weak title that needs the support of its fellows to really get anywhere, and I'm not even sure just how integral it is to the overall tale. Even with the whole Zonoma Sekot angle, there just isn't enough meat in this book to keep you going. Thus the book limps through with a passable 2.5 things that Nom Anor does to keep alive in the belly of Coruscant out of a possible 5.

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